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Help for When a Central Air Conditioning Unit Quits Working
Staying on top of your central air conditioner can save you big money on repair bills.
Any number of small items can render your air conditioner inoperable. Before calling a repair service, troubleshoot some of the common air conditioning issues that cause a unit to fail. You can fix many of these items on your own, without the help of an HVAC professional.
Check the Thermostat
Check your thermostat to begin your central air conditioning troubleshooting. Make sure the thermostat switch is in the “on” position, and it’s set to “cool.” If the thermostat is a digital model, replace the batteries if applicable. Verify the temperature setting on the thermostat is lower than your room’s current temperature. Many times, thermostat settings cause the trouble. If the inside unit fails to come on once you’ve checked the thermostat setting, check the fan switch. The fan switch should be set to “auto” and not “off.” If the switch is set to “auto,” move the switch to the “on” position. If the fan does not come on, check the circuit breakers.
Replace the Air Filters
Check the air filter inside your unit if it still doesn’t produce cool air. Pull out the filter and inspect both sides. If the filter appears dirty and clogged, you must replace it. You should clean or replace your air filter once a month to keep the unit working properly. A clogged air filter will cause the unit to work harder, overheat and not cool as efficiently.
Check the Circuit Breakers
Your air conditioning unit has two breakers; one operates the outside unit while the other operates the inside. If the breakers appear tripped, turn the breakers off and then back on to reset them. If the unit comes on briefly once you reset the breakers, but they trip once again, call an air conditioning service provider to check the electrical wiring.
Check the Condensate Drain
If resetting the breakers turns the unit back on, but the unit still won’t cool, check the condensate drain line. A float-switch safety device sits inside the drain. Should the line clog, the float-switch turns off the unit. This stops the creation of condensate that could overflow, damaging the unit and your home. Attach a wet/dry vacuum to the condensate drain line outside your home to ensure it is free from clogs. Check the condensate drain line inside your home while running the vacuum. You should hear air rushing through the line. This means the vacuum has removed all excess water and gunk built up inside the drain. Once you’ve completed the inside central air conditioning troubleshooting, check the outside unit.
Check the Outside Safety Disconnect
If the inside unit is operating, but the outside unit is not, check the disconnect switch on the exterior wall. This separate safety shut-off switch allows an air conditioning service provider to interrupt the power to the unit when making repairs. If the disconnect switch is in the “off” position, turn it on to see if the outside unit starts. If it doesn’t start, check the switch fuses. Test the fuses with a continuity tester if you feel comfortable working with electricity; if not, you may need to call a professional. If the fuses are good, and the disconnect switch is in the “on” position, it may be the dual capacitor or the fan motor.
Check the Outside Unit
The outside unit requires both the fan motor and a dual capacitor to operate the condenser. If the fan isn’t turning, but you can hear the condenser, have your fan motor replaced as this puts too much strain on the condenser. If the fan motor isn’t running and you cannot hear the condenser, have a professional check the dual capacitor, as it may need replacing.